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September 16, 2009

NY Times Hypocrisy on Civilian Casualties

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Stephen Farrell, pictured here in Iraq in 2007. Afghani civilians, including women and children, reportedly were killed during the course of the operation for his release (Photo by Getty)

Ha'aretz's Amir Oren observes today:

The New York Times, which vociferously opposes the murder of noncombatants, was indirectly involved in the deaths of women, children and other civilians just a week ago. It happened near Kunduz, Afghanistan, when British and Afghani commandos liberated kidnapped Times journalist Stephen Farrell: Civilians were caught in the cross-fire and killed, as was Farrell's Afghani interpreter.

Had the Times, a bastion of opposition to harming to civilians in war zones, known that civilians would be killed in the rescue, would it have preferred that the operation be called off, and that Farrell remain in the hands of his captors? What will it write if a similar operation is undertaken to release Gilad Shalit?

Unlike journalists, governments and field commanders deal with this dilemma every day. It is easy to decide when the target is a battalion of tanks in the desert. But it is more complex when the threat to a military unit comes from within a civilian environment - the very civilians the unit has been sent to protect. Ignoring the nature of military action is the height of hypocrisy.

Posted by TS at September 16, 2009 04:54 AM

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